My name is Howie. I am an American, originally from New
York, and who lived in California for many years. My wife is
Akiko, a Japanese woman originally from Nara. We are raising
our three sons on Tanegashima, two of whom were born on this
island. We originally moved to Tanegashima in 2014 where we
rented a home in Minamitane Town. We wanted a quiet
existence and to be in a beautiful place where we could also
grow our own food. We spent about three really happy years
there. Then in 2017, the owner of the rental home decided he
wanted to return to Tangashima and gave us one year to move
out of the house. We decided not to wait and purchased a
home up in the mountains of San Diego County in California.
We were happy with this mountain property but not with all
the problems of American society and we really missed
Tanegashima. After only six months, we sold the mountain
house and purchased a home in Nakatane Town. We returned to
Tanegashima in 2018 and decided to make this our permanent
residence. After a couple of years, we began noticing many
changes, specifically, the increasing presence of the
Japanese military. We knew many more changes were coming.
The decision to build a military base on neighboring
Mageshima is very disturbing for us. The base will
eventually become a United States military base and future
bases are already being planned for Tanegashima. We are
already making plans to move from the island if this occurs. Please visit my personal blog for our story with pictures
to Tanegashima Friends and Residents
Many of our friends on the island were born, and grew up on,
this island. Many of our other friends moved to this island
to escape the hectic cities of the north, to enjoy the
incredible beauty of this island, to ride the fantastic
waves, to be self-sufficient, or to simply be in a great
place to raise a family. All of these things are going to go
away unless all of you act now. Do not be one of the sheep
being controlled by wolves. The Japanese and American
governments have lied to you and will continue to do so
until they achieve their goals. Do not give up your honor by
allowing yourself to be bought for a few dollars. The result
of your inaction now will be the destruction of your way of
life on this island. Please read all the information on this
page to get the real story. At the bottom of the page is a
list of contacts and groups involved in keeping the American
military off this island. Please join in this cause before
it is too late.
For Mageshima, the fight is already over. The plan to build a military base
there was already decided by the American and Japanese governments many years
ago. The residents of Tanegashima were originally told the island would only be
used for Field Carrier Landing Practice (FCLP) even though plans for a military
base were on file with the Japanese Ministry of Defense. The residents of
Tanegashima wasted months doing sound checks, protesting with signs and marches,
and believing an environmental impact study of Mageshima would be completed,
which has already been cancelled as of January 2022. The plans to build a base
on Mageshima island will continue regardless of the desires of Tanegashima
residents. A new threat is looming, the building of military bases and
facilities on Tanegashima. This is now the fight that Tanegashima residents
should be fighting.
America Really Wants
The basic thinking of American military strategy is to keep
all fighting off American soil. This obviously makes sense
in order to avoid loss of American life, destruction of
American property, and negative economic impacts that a war
often brings to a country. The two main adversaries of the
United States of America at the present time are China and
Russia. Both countries have formidable military
capabilities, along with huge arsenals of nuclear weapons.
Any military confrontations in this generation ultimately
leads to a huge loss of life along with widespread
destruction. Because of this, America is taking steps to
ensure that any fighting with China or Russia be confined to
locations close to those countries. Japan is the perfect
buffer zone for America. Placing military installations in
Japan creates a first line of defense for America. Any
fighting between America and China would undoubtedly be
fought on Japanese soil. Since WWII America has always used
Japan like a puppet and this situation is no different.
Japan extends from approximately 20° north (Okinotorishima)
latitude to 45° north (Benten-jima) latitude. This is a
distance of about 2,735 kilometers (1,700 miles). Beginning
at the top of Japan and heading southwest, the actual
distance is over 3,000 kilometers (1860 miles). The current
plan is for America to extend their military influence along
the entire west coast of Japan with emphasis being placed on
the islands stretching from Okinawa to Tanegashima.
The red circle on the map shows the location of Tanegashima
with the smaller dot in the middle representing Mageshima.
The installation of a military base on Mageshima and future
bases on Tanegashima will turn Tanegashima into a a first
strike target in the event of a war with China. Rockets used
in modern warfare are still not that accurate and the
bombing of Tanegashima military bases will result in a
tremendous loss of life and widespread destruction of
properties and infrastructure. The tactic of destroying the
defensive capability of a country is known as Suppression of
Enemy Air Defenses (SEAD) and was first used during the
Second World War and then was used in virtually every war
thereafter. If a war occurs between Japan and China the
question will not be, will Tanegashima be bombed, the
question will be when.
The United States maintains American military bases in Japan
as part of the U.S.-Japan alliance since 1951. Most U.S.
military are in Okinawa Prefecture. In 2013, there were
approximately 50,000 U.S. military personnel stationed in
Japan with 40,000 dependents and 5,500 American civilians
employed by the United States Department of Defense. About
26,000 U.S. military personnel are on Okinawa Island.
There are 13 United States military bases on Okinawa Island
(shown in red on the map). Approximately 62% of all United
States bases in Japan are on Okinawa. They cover 25% of
Okinawa island. The major bases are Futenma, Kadena, Hansen,
Torii, Schwab, Foster, and Kinser. There are 28 U.S.
military facilities on Okinawa. They are mainly concentrated
in the central area. At one point, Okinawa hosted
approximately 1,200 nuclear warheads. There were several
nuclear weapons incidents on Okinawa and in the sea near the
Okinawans argued for land and private property rights, as
farmers were limited by military presence. They also made
antiwar arguments, arguing that they did not want their
island used as an instrument to prepare for war and result
in the death of more people. The US argued that the military
presence in Okinawa is helpful for economic stimulus to the
citizens. During the Vietnam War Okinawans echoed even more
antiwar sentiment, and protested nuclear weapons being
stationed in Okinawa.
The residential area surrounding the Kadena Air Base have
been subject to dangerously loud noise exposure from
aircraft, during the Vietnam War, sound levels were
dangerous enough to cause hearing loss for residents.
Studies from noise recordings over the decades have allowed
for the conclusion of risk of hearing loss among Okinawans
in the area.
The 1971 Okinawa Reversion Agreement officially ended the
U.S. military occupation on Okinawa. The bases primarily
exist to serve Japanese and American strategic interests but
are unpopular with most local residents, despite recent
efforts to move the bases out of core areas following
incidents involving military personnel and resultant
protests (including the 1995 Okinawa rape incident).
In 2012, an agreement was struck between the United States
and Japan to reduce the number of U.S. military personnel on
the island, moving 9,000 personnel to other locations and
moving bases out of heavily populated Greater Naha, but
10,000 Marines will remain on the island, along with other
U.S. military units. Attempts to completely close bases on
the southern third of the island, where 90% of the
population lives (all but about 120,000 people) have been
impeded by local Okinawan opposition to any suggested
locations on the island (who demand no U.S. troops at all
anywhere on the island).
There has been continued civil unrest from Okinawans for the
removal of the condensed military presence on the island.
Accidents and crimes against Okinawans by Americans for
years are the main factors for the Okinawan opposition.
The US has been continuously
unwilling to remove troops from Okinawa because of
its strategic location for surveillance and deployment for
Pacific-Asian foreign affairs.
With such a strong focus of US Forces Japan in Okinawa,
residents face economic problems of the highest unemployment
in Japan as well as struggle for investment from outside
businesses. Okinawa is debated as being taken advantage of
by mainland Japan to cooperate with US forces, and immense
public opposition in Okinawa is still met with difficulty to
create change for Okinawan citizens, while 25,000 American
troops remain in Okinawa.
U.S. Bases Destroyed the Economy of
At the time of Okinawa’s Reversion to Japan in 1972, US
Forces-related revenue was 15.5% of the gross prefectural
income. In 2008, this ratio decreased to 5.3%. In contrast,
the tourism revenue increased from 6.5% in 1972 to 10.9% in
2008, which is more than twice the US Forces-related
Bases Destroyed Okinawa
There are an average of 23 incidents or accidents per month,
including traffic-related. In addition, there are daily
aircraft noise emissions (at times exceeding 100db!) and
other adverse environmental impacts associated with US
Forces training. For 66 years since the end of WWII, the
excessive weight of the vast US military bases on
Okinawa, and the numerous issues associated with them,
continue to weigh down heavily on the shoulders of the
citizens. These issues are challenges faced by the local
population every single day, in various aspects of their
American Bases on Okinawa
Issues (reverse chronological order)
- In April 2012, Japan and the US reached an agreement
that 9,000 marines stationed on Okinawa will soon leave.
The marines will be moved to Guam, Hawaii, or Australia
to other military bases. Though the realignment has not
happened yet and is speculated to take place in 2024.
It is speculated the marines will
be moved to Mageshima Island.
- In 2020, a water quality study by the Ministry of the
Environment found cancer inducing toxins (FOS, or
perfluorooctanesulfonic acid, and PFOA, or
perfluorooctanoic acid) at 37 water sources near U.S.
military bases and industrial areas which exceeded
February 2019 - In February,
2019, a referendum for the citizens of Okinawa, over 70% of
voters - about 434,000 people - voted against the
construction of the new Henoko base. Following the results
of the referendum, Japan's prime minister Shinzo Abe pushed
for an understanding by Okinawan citizens for the relocation
of the base. Some Okinawan voters have claimed to feel their
voices do not feel heard in Tokyo as the central government
still pushes for the move of the base to stay committed to
the security alliance between the US and Japan.
August 11, 2018 - About
70,000 individuals gathered in Naha, the Okinawa
Prefecture's capital in opposition to the moving of the
Futenma US Marine base to the Henoko Bay, a less populated
fishing village compared to Ginowan. The citizens of Okinawa
wanted the base moved entirely off of the island rather than
across. Environmental groups oppose the relocation to the
bay due to the potential harm to coral and dugongs in the
May 2016 - 20-year-old Rina
Shimabukuro, is raped and murdered by Kenneth Franklin
Gadson, a former Marine and civilian contractor who worked
at Kadena Air Base. This case prompted renewed protests
against the U.S. military presence in Okinawa. Gadson is
sentenced to life in prison.
October 2012 - Two U.S.
military personnel, Seaman Christopher Browning of Athens,
Texas, and Petty Officer 3rd Class Skyler Dozierwalker of
Muskogee, Oklahoma, were found guilty by the Naha District
Court of raping and robbing a woman in her 20s in a parking
lot in October. Both admitted committing the crime. The case
outraged many Okinawans, a number of whom have long
complained of military-related crime on their island, which
hosts thousands of U.S. troops. It also sparked tougher
restrictions for all 50,000 U.S. military personnel in
Japan, including a curfew and drinking restrictions.
November 2009 - In November
2009, Staff Sgt. Clyde "Drew" Gunn, a U.S. Army soldier
stationed at Torii Station was involved in a hit-and-run
accident of a pedestrian in Yomitan Village on Okinawa.
Later, in April 2010, the soldier was charged with failing
to render aid and vehicular manslaughter. Staff Sgt. Gunn,
of Ocean Springs, Mississippi, was eventually sentenced to
two years and eight months in jail on 15 October 2010.
August 13, 2004 - A US Marine
Corps CH-53D helicopter crashed into the Okinawa
International University. Although there were no injuries
involving the students and local residents in this
particular incident, the communities surrounding the Air
Station live with the constant anxiety of another aircraft
November 2, 2002 - U.S.
Marine Corps Major Michael Brown attempted an indecent
assault on a Filipina bartender in Okinawa, Japan. The
bartender accused Brown of attempting to rape her and of
throwing her cell phone into a nearby river; Brown denied
the rape charges.
1995 - The 1995 Okinawa rape incident (Japanese:
沖縄米兵少女暴行事件) occurred on September 4, 1995, when three
U.S. servicemen, U.S. Navy Seaman Marcus Gill and U.S.
Marines Rodrico Harp and Kendrick Ledet, who were all
serving at Camp Hansen on Okinawa, rented a van and
kidnapped a 12-year-old Okinawan girl. They beat her,
duct-taped her eyes and mouth shut, and bound her hands.
Gill and Harp then raped her, while Ledet claimed he
only pretended to do so due to fear of Gill.
November 2, 1987 - RF-4C 66-0416 (15 TRS / 18 TFW) entered a
spin at 16,500 feet in a Whiskey area approximately 95 miles
Northeast of Kadena. Both crewmembers ejected. One
crewmembers body was never recovered. The other crewmember
December 20-21, 1970 - The
Koza riot (コザ暴動, Koza bōdō) was a violent and spontaneous
protest against the US military presence in Okinawa, which
occurred on the night of December 20, 1970, into the morning
of the following day. Roughly 5,000 Okinawans clashed with
roughly 700 American MPs in an event which has been regarded
as symbolic of Okinawan anger against 25 years of US
military occupation. In the riot, approximately 60 Americans
and 27 Okinawans were injured, 80 cars were burned, and
several buildings on Kadena Air Base were destroyed or
June 11, 1965 - a six-ton
trailer was parachute dropped outside of the Yomitan Air
Base and resulted in the death of a young girl. This
incident was followed by a protest of 10,000 Okinawans
calling to stop all military activities on the island.
June 30, 1959 - An F-100 from
the wing crashed on Okinawa during a training flight after
suffering an engine fire. The pilot successfully ejected and
suffered no harm, but the aircraft crashed into a local
elementary school, killing 11 students plus six residents of
the nearby neighborhood, and injuring 210.
1955 - The Yumiko-chan incident was the rape and
murder of six-year-old Japanese girl Yumiko Nagayama
(sometimes reported as Yumiko Arakaki) by American soldier
Sergeant Isaac J. Hurt in Kadena, Okinawa on 3 September
1955. Nagayama's body was found near Kadena Air Base during
the U.S. occupation of Okinawa, and an investigation led to
the conviction of 31-year-old Sergeant Hurt on charges of
murder, rape, and kidnapping.
After only a couple of years in our new home, we began to
notice many changes. The first, and most obvious change was
the decision by the Nakatane Town elected officials to allow
the Japanese Self-Defense Forces (JSDF) to be stationed at
the local community center, only a mere 2 miles from our
home. We could listen to the intermittent sound of JSDF
driving along the roads close to our home. From that point,
something told us that Tanegashima was not ever going to be
the same again. Then one after another, decisions were made
to transform Mageshima Island into a military base, allow
military training on beautiful, pristine Tanegashima
beaches, and most recently, to build military facilities in
the towns of Nakatane, and Minamitane. We realized the
simple and peaceful way of life on Tanegashima was not ever
going to be the same again.
can you do?
Please support our effort to keep the military off Tanegashima Island. A link to
our support page will be set up soon. Please continue reading to learn more
about this terrible threat to the Tanegashima way of life. The following video
is a great overview of the present situation.
Watch Protect the Island
The video, "Protect the Island" was produced by Takashi Kawamura, a man we met at a
dinner party during the Summer of 2020. He strongly opposes the addition of a
military base on Magashima Island and he made the "Protect the Island" video to
explain events leading up to the present. Please watch the video and then visit
the Protect the Island page for more information and to learn what you can do to
keep the military from destroying Mageshima and Tanegashima.
Please visit the Protect the Island
Page Against U.S. Military Facilities on Mageshima
This page has updated information about the progress of the military and efforts
of Tanegashima residents against the building of U.S. military facilities on
Visit and follow the Facebook
Mageshima Base News
This page has updated news information about the progress of the military and
efforts of Tanegashima residents against the building of U.S. military
facilities on Mageshima listed in reverse chronological order.
Visit the Mageshima base news
Save Tanegashima Island
before it's too late. The Japanese military is already
making its way into everyday life on Tanegashima with the
American military soon to follow. The
elected officials who control Nakatane Town are very
PRO-AMERICAN and have sold out for the promise of
money and are already allowing the Japan Self-Defense Forces
(JSDF) to occupy the main community center, located a mere
two kilometers from our home. The
elected officials of Minamitane Town are also PRO-AMERICAN
and allowed the largest Japanese amphibious training drill
(see picture) since 1945, on Maenohama Beach. Both communities have
already approved plans for JDF bases.
The following news stories are in reverse chronological order and represent a
timeline leading up to the present situation regarding the military presence on
Tanegashima and Mageshima islands. Please check this page often to see the
latest updates and to stay informed.
Military Facilities Already Approved
January 13, 2022
The Defense Ministry presented a draft construction plan on Tanegashima island,
near Mageshima island, for the project at the end of last year. The plan showed
SDF facilities would be built at Nakatane and Minamitane towns, which both have
effectively approved the relocation plan. Ministry tells island city it will host SDF base, U.S. drills
The Next Okinawa
April 16, 2021
In 2016 it was reported the US military had polluted Okinawa’s drinking water –
later believed to have affected a third of the population – following the
discharge of tens of thousands of liters of firefighting foam (which was blamed
on a malfunctioning sprinkler system). The ingestion of the chemicals in
question, per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAs), is linked to a litany of
maladies, from cancers of the internal organs to severe immunological defects.
Despite that, as of last year, Japanese government officials were still waiting
for permission to inspect the offending Kadena Air Base. The story typifies the
worrying nature of the US military’s ability to self-police in Japan, and
highlights their continued exertion of soft power.
Takeshi Kawamura echoes this sentiment: “The US military has rights to
unregulated flight courses and has the right to arrest and convict their
personnel when crimes such as sexual assault are committed upon Japanese soil.
The US-Japan Status of Forces Agreement is heavily in favor of the US military,
but the Japanese Government is a compliant partner,” he says. “Our Government is
putting the requests of the US military above that of its own citizens”. Opposition Increasing for New US Training Site on Mageshima
This page, and this website, were made to show the beauty
and peaceful serenity of Tanegashima Island. Recent events,
including the ongoing conversion of the neighboring island
of Mageshima into a military base, and other activities
related to the military presence on Tanegashima, prompted me
to focus on, and bring attention to, this ongoing threat to
this island. If you want to know the good side of
Tanegashima, click any of the links on the sidebars for more
information. Please continue reading this page to learn more
about the slow transformation of Tanegashima from a
wonderful place to live into a military installation.
THIS IS A TRAGEDY IN PROGRESS
and must be reversed before it is too late.